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A Brief History of Second and Third Base on The South Side

It’s no secret. As White Sox fans, and even most baseball fans are probably aware, the production that the South siders have seen out of their plethora of second and third basemen has been transient and more times than not, quite ugly. The men penciled into the lineup cards each day and each year lacked consistency and quality production at their positions.

But that’s all supposed to change in 2016. White Sox fans have whispered of the many additions the organization has made this offseason, with Rick Hahn proudly proclaiming that he feels the team he’s worked to construct is better than the one which garnered all the hype last Winter.

For most, the key additions made were those of “legitimate” second and third basemen, Brett Lawrie and Todd Frazier, during December’s Winter Meetings in Nashville.

Per Baseball Prospectus’ projection system, PECOTA, Lawrie and Frazier are slated to produce a total of 4.3 WARP at their positions. Over the last 10 seasons, these two positions have only seen a collective total WARP higher than 4.1 twice, one year after the World Series was won (2006) and the last year in which the White Sox made the playoffs (2008).

This story is for those moments in 2016 when White Sox fans find themselves irrationally cursing at the sky, should Lawrie find himself in a slump or should Frazier not start off the regular season blasting home runs onto the concourse. This story is of what White Sox fans have endured during the last decade at these two positions. Warning: Proceed with caution, or a stiff drink.

Collecting a list of the players who have manned second and third base for the White Sox from during the last decade, I’ve added together the WARP that the two positions have produced. Since there were so many names, and some of the players appeared at other positions enough to skew the data, I have only added WARP numbers for players who posted at least ~200 plate appearances at the position listed into the final totals. Honorable mentions are not included in the final WARP total.

The End of the Road

Tadahito Iguchi, what was left of Joe Crede, and one good WARP season.


2006WARP Total: 4.1

Second Base: Tadahito Iguchi

Third Base: Joe Crede

All was well, and the good times continued to roll for the World Series winning second and third base tandem. Crede posted an impressive 3.5 WARP at third base and Iguchi continued to stay afloat with his solid bat, but his shoddy defense would be the culprit of a 0.6 WARP. Hey, if it works sufficiently enough don’t fix it, right? That is, until it needs fixing…


2007WARP Total: 1.8

Second Base: Tadahito Iguchi, Danny Richar

Third Base: Josh Fields

Honorable mentions: Joe Crede, Andy Gonzalez, Alex Cintron, Pablo Ozuna

Trading away Tadahito Iguchi at the deadline, the White Sox sent Danny Richar out to man second base for the remainder of the season. Richar was acquired in a mid-June trade, and amassed 206 plate appearances at second base in 56 games. However, his performance there was poor enough to earn him a -0.4 WAR. Joe Crede’s recurring back ailment began to overtake him, leaving Josh Fields as the starting third basemen for the majority of the season. Fields held his own posting a WARP of 1.4 in 418 plate appearances, but the White Sox would eventually see Crede return in 2008…


2008WARP Total: 5.0

Second Base: Alexei Ramirez

Honorable mention: Juan Uribe

Third Base: Joe Crede

Honorable mentions: Juan Uribe, Pablo Ozuna

Alexei Ramirez starting the bulk of 136 games at second base? Yes, if you’re like me, you forgot that happened. The good news in that is that Ramirez produced a 1.8 WARP at the position, while Joe Crede revived himself from his back issues long enough to post 97 games at third base and a 2.0 WARP. The real hero of 2008, though? Juan Uribe, who filled in the majority of the games remaining at both second and third. Despite these positions looking somewhat botched to the naked eye, the production delivered in 2008 — and the gang even made it to October.


The Gordon Beckham Era

The White Sox just didn’t know how to quit him.


2009WARP Total: 3.8

Second Base: Chris Getz

Honorable mentions: Jayson Nix, Brent Lillibridge

Third Base: Gordon Beckham

Honorable mention: Josh Fields

Alexei Ramirez officially became the team’s full time shortstop in 2009 after the departure of Juan Uribe, leaving the second base duties to Chris Getz. Getz split time at the position with Jayson Nix and Brent Lillibridge, two more fresh faces attempting to hold together the ever-changing landscape of White Sox middle infielders. With the departure of Crede in the offseason, as his back would no longer allow him to play the game effectively, the White Sox ushered in the era of Gordon Beckham. It looked promising, with Beckham posting a 2.5 WARP at the position in his initial season, but unfortunately, he would never post even one full WARP again.


2010WARP Total: 0.5

Second Base: Gordon Beckham

Honorable mention: Brent Lillibridge

Third Base: Omar Vizquel

Honorable mentions: Mark Teahen, Dayan Viciedo, Brent Morel, Jayson Nix

This was quite a low point. Robbing Peter to pay Paul in the form of infielders, Gordon Beckham moved from the hot corner to second base, and the hole that Crede’s departure left at third was becoming harder to ignore. Omar Vizquel and a misfit crew were sent out fill the crater that was forming, and it wasn’t pretty. Vizquel posted a -0.3 WARP at the position, while Beckham wasn’t doing so well himself at second, posting just a 0.8 WARP on the season.

2011 - WARP Total: 1.2

Second Base: Gordon Beckham

Third Base: Brent Morel

Honorable mention: Mark Teahen

Gordon Beckham manned second base for 150 games, and still couldn’t manage higher than a 0.8 WARP at the position. Brent Morel took the brunt of the work at third base, with the help of Mark Teahen, but only posted a 0.4 WARP. There was a consistent churn of bodies on the bases, but hardly any who carried out the task at hand in earnest. The bleeding would be stopped at the very end 2011 by a Morel hot streak, but the wounds still needed attention.

2012WARP Total: 1.7

Second Base: Gordon Beckham

Third Base: Kevin Youkilis

Honorable mentions: Brent Morel, Orlando Hudson

Kevin Youkilis was brought in an attempt to help rectify the issue at third and chalked up 344 plate appearances at the position during his age 33 and final full season in the majors. He posted an impressive 1.2 WARP during the 80 games he played on the South side, and the White Sox could breathe for yet another moment. Meanwhile, in 151 games, Gordon Beckham’s production slipped even lower to just 0.5 WARP on the season.

2013 - WARP Total: 2.4

Second Base: Gordon Beckham

Honorable mention: Jeff Keppinger, Tyler Greene, Leury Garcia

Third Base: Conor Gillaspie

Honorable mention: Marcus Semien, Jeff Keppinger

Perhaps some of the poorest memories White Sox fans may have in recent years are those of the Gordon Beckham and Conor Gillaspie tandem, and this is where that story begins. Gillaspie posted a 1.6 WARP in his first season at third base, didn’t smile once (I can’t prove that, but I know in my heart it’s true), and hit just .159 against lefties. Meanwhile at second base, Beckham improved from his 2012 production, bringing his WARP total on the season back to 0.8. This would also be the lone year of Jeff Keppinger, who amassed 84 games between second and third base in 2013. He was released by the White Sox in 2014 and has not played major league baseball since.


The Reign of Conor Gillespie

The White Sox tried to harvest their own young talent, but it wasn’t truly the answer. Neither was Gillespie.


2014WARP Total: 2.0

Second Base: Gordon Beckham

Honorable mentions: Carlos Sanchez, Marcus Semien, Leury Garcia

Third Base: Conor Gillaspie

Honorable mention: Marcus Semien

The Gillaspie and Beckham brigade proved viable yet unspectacular for another season on the White Sox diamond. However, the band broke up when Gordon Beckham was sent to the Los Angeles Angels in late August, paving the way for Carlos Sanchez, who would finish out the remainder of the season at second base. Conor Gillaspie continued to hit poorly against lefties, never smile, and generally bring an air of third base-related existential dread to White Sox fans and probably himself, too.


2015 - WARP Total 0.9

Second Base: Carlos Sanchez

Honorable mention: Micah Johnson

Third Base: Gordon Beckham, Tyler Saladino

Honorable mention: Conor Gillaspie

Sure enough, the White Sox felt they couldn’t live without Gordon Beckham, and he rejoined the team as a free agent  in the offseason of 2015. The White Sox brought back the middle infielder to play third, for reasons we can assume include “Well, he’s not as bad as Gillaspie”, who was relegated to a bench role. Beckham would split time with newcomer Tyler Saladino, who posted a 0.2 WARP in his 68 games at third base. Second base duties were handed over to Carlos Sanchez after a short stint with youngster Micah Johnson to start off April, and Sanchez managed to post a 0.8 WARP in his first full season in the majors. This was still not a long term, viable solution.



Many of the players that made the list of men who contributed to the White Sox infield are either retired or out of baseball, and often made their way out shortly after their stints with the South siders ended. In 2015, the White Sox front office would pull a “Gordon Beckham” on Conor Gillaspie and have his contract sold to the Los Angeles Angeles in late July. Gillaspie then signed as a free agent in the offseason with the San Francisco Giants, and finally smiled in his team photo. Beckham was granted free agency by the White Sox after the 2015 season ended and signed a one-year deal with the Atlanta Braves. With the White Sox having moved on at both positions — this is likely to be the end of the Beckham/Gillaspie saga for the White Sox.

It’s been a rough journey over the past decade, one with middling talents, and a glut of temporary fixes. But with PECOTA projecting Frazier and Lawrie to post some of the highest combined WARP totals for these positions that the White Sox have seen in years, perhaps this is the tourniquet the White Sox needed to help solidify their legitimacy for a playoff run.

So the next time you look to the White Sox infield and you see these two new established starters with fairly decent track records take their spots on the diamond, remember what the last decade has been like for these two positions. Look back on this article, keep it bookmarked for reference, but remember that the future of these positions looks more promising for 2016 than it has in a very long time.

Photo courtesy of Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

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